Yesterday, my son came home from a week at the beach. Son: “Dad, there’s a problem with the car. Gas comes out the side when I fill the tank.“ Dad: Slaps own forehead.
Today’s commute began by me stuffing Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist folding bike, into the trunk of the Millennium Falcon (a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer). This required some persuasion as the Falcon’s boot isn’t exactly capacious. (Hey, that’s two obscure words in two days. I’m on a roll.)
I arrived at the car dealer which is high atop a hill in Alexandria city. The dealer took the car and I took Little Nellie and started to ride. The chain made a hellacious noise. (I've got chain cooties, I swear.) I got off, fiddled, noise, got off, fiddled, noise. This just wouldn’t do. I could not figure out why the front derailer was not allowing the chain to move freely. After about five minutes I finally got the chain moving freely in the middle chain ring and headed down the 1/2 mile hill to Four Mile Run and the bike trail. Despite the mechanical problem and a chain that seemed to skip at random over the cogs in the rear, I made it to work early.
The dealer called at 10 a.m. to tell me they can’t see anything wrong so, after selling me more repairs (the battery was 5 years old and the air filters were, um, original equipment), I sent them on their telephonic way.
Someone at work needed a parking space. I didn’t remember the number so I went to the garage to find out. The space was already filled by a trespassing SUV. I got the number for future reference. On my return, I walked by the bike rack and saw Little Nellie’s chain hanging oddly. I bent over to unlock it and the lock wouldn’t work. Fiddle, diddle, fiddle. Finally, after several minutes the lock released.
I finally figured out that the trouble with the derailer was caused by my lousy Ortleib handlebar bag which had snagged the front shifter cable. I took the bag off, freed the cable, problem solved. Now what to do with the lock. Well, I thought about my options and decided it was better to take a chance on not getting the lock off than on having the bike stolen.
Tonight after some friendly persuasion and a couple of f bombs, I unlocked the bike. The ride back to the dealer started with 5 miles along the banks of the Potomac River. In the sun. With a nice breeze. I am so spoiled by my commute.
At mile 8, I hit the 1/2 mile hill. I was worrying about this all day. It was gradual with a steep section near the top. I had no trouble at all with the hill. I normally suck at hill climbing so I was pretty pleased with myself. I briefly considered changing my name to Claudio. In reality I'm a hopeless Phred.
Little Nellie went in the trunk without complaint and we drove home.
I brought my bike lock into the house intending to set it aside for shipment back to the manufacturer in hopes of a free replacement. Then it occurred to me that there was a slight chance that the problem wasn't the lock but the key. I dug out the spare key that came with the lock. It worked like a charm. I did the same thing with my other u-lock. Same result. I looked at the used keys and noticed significant wear that caused the teeth of the key to have rounded edges - not unlike a worn cog on a bike.
Looks like I am keeping the lock after all.
Once I put my bike toys away, my son informed me that the radio in my daughters car died.
Car repair isn't something you finish. It's like an iterative loop. Come to think of it, it's a lot like bike commuting. I've ridden nearly 1,500 miles and I haven't gone anywhere. Kind of frustrating when you think about it.